Girl band Our Secret Life were the stars of the show at last week’s latest Finance Live concert held in Grappa's Cellar, nestled beneath Hong Kong's Jardine House.
The gig saw the leading lights of the city’s financial industry throw off their business suits and don their rockstar attire as they raised money for charity through their hidden musical gifts.
Fans of the show will have to wait a while for the next financial mosh pit, however, with a new show unlikely to be held until 2016.
Finance Live organiser Steve Bernstein, chief executive of Hong Kong-based SinoPac Solutions and Services, said he was pleased with how last Thursday’s event went. “Everything flowed,” he said.
Our Secret Life (pictured below) came on around 8pm, after Bernstein-fronted STACS performed a first set, featuring renditions of American folk rock classics from the likes of The Band and Grateful Dead.
Our Secret Life lead singer Katherine Abrat, head of Goldman Sachs’ Asia prime services consulting team, raised the tempo alongside band members from Citi, CLSA and Wesfarmers. They belted out pop tunes ranging from Jessie J’s Price Tag (“It’s not about the money”) to Bon Jovi (“It’s my life”).
Performing after Our Secret Life’s 8-9pm slot, special musical guest Chris Barron connected with the finance-heavy audience, commenting that he’d made a million dollars from one of the Spin Doctors’ hits in the 1990s but then lost it in the dot-com bust.
Separately, Bernstein remarked that a friend’s $3 billion hedge fund had gone out of business “for operational, not market, reasons” because it did not have a proper infrastructure in place.
Bernstein is hoping to make sure that this doesn’t happen in Hong Kong. Recently he partnered with the Henley Business School to launch an executive hedge fund programme, which is set to run from September 12 this year to February 21, 2016 in Hong Kong. Bernstein described it as a “mini-COO course”.
He said that there was a “shortage of good people” working in Hong Kong’s hedge fund industry and hoped that the course would help bring the city up to “the same level of expertise as the US and Europe”.
Bernstein (pictured below, with STACS) described Finance Live as a “networking event for charity” and said that it was on track to raise $10-15,000 for its nominated charity HDH – Helpers for Domestic Helpers.
After organising two events last year, however, last week’s is set to be the only one in 2015. Bernstein said the next one would take place before or after Chinese New Year in 2016.
The two bands performing after Barron – So Much for Subtlety and @one – included band members from HSBC, Sun Hung Kai Financial and Matthews Asia.
So Much for Subtlety were true to their name, announcing ahead of their set that if things went badly, it was because their drummer was on holiday. They only had three weeks to practice with a stand-in drummer and played a set of original songs.
One titled Calm Before the Storm was ominous given that the event took place on the same day as Hong Kong legislators vetoed an electoral reform package put forward by the city’s government.
June 19 saw a Global Times editorial warning that Hong Kong could “degenerate from a capital of finance and fashion to a total mess”. The evidence from Finance Live pointed to Hong Kong’s potential to become a capital of finance and music.